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News 18 Feb 15

Big Drop in Student Numbers Worries Romania

Education ministry calls for measures to reverse the recent sharp decline in the number of people entering higher education.

Marian Chiriac
Bucharest

 

Romania needs to increase the number of people in higher education by at least 10 per cent by 2020 and stop the sharp fall in the number of people going to university, an Education Ministry paper says.

According to official data, only 465,000 students enrolled in late 2013, compared to 891,000 only four years earlier.

The percentage of people aged 30 to 34 who have graduated from higher education has fallen to 21.8 per cent, compared with a European average of 35.8 per cent.

Sociologist Alfred Bulai blames the fall in student numbers in part on a declining population. Many Romanians have emigrated in recent years.

“One of the main reasons for this situation is the sharp decline in population, and also the decrease in the number of young people. Many Romanians have now the possibility to leave the country and live abroad,” he said.

Romania’s population has shrunk by more than 2.6 million since 2001 to some 19.04 million, according to latest census.

Analysts say the education system is also to blame. It is widely seen as too rigid, which may be why many young people are not interested in university.

“In Romania, vocational training is weak and poorly coordinated with the needs of the labour market. We do not need so many humanities students - teachers, lawyers, economists and managers - when there is a shortage of skilled blue-collar workers,” education expert Tincuta Apatanu said.

Education in Romania is also under-financed. The education budget dropped to just 3.4 per cent of GDP last year, well below the average European rate of around 5 per cent.

There is growing concern that the educational system in Romania is declining in general, with cheating at exams, violence in schools, and unmotivated teachers.

Various education ministers, each with differing visions of how to improve the system, have only added to the confusion.

 

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